SwitchMote – one step closer to reality!

Just got another batch of SwitchMote and SwitchMote Shield PCBs from OSHPark the other day and I put one together for a test run. In the meantime Kris K has suggested I try another type of cover for SwitchMote. I think his idea was great and today I lasered a few of these covers that are meant to fit in the cutout of a regular rectangular light switch and they turned out very nice. This way people could replace the light switch and keep the original cover, or upgrade to a rectangular cutout cover (HomeDepot has all sorts of light switch covers, even paintable if you’d like to blend them with the wall color). The acrylic is also available in different colors from different sources but for now I’ll go with the usual white I’ve been using before.

The button caps come in different colors so I got a few samples to try out. I think blue, red, yellow and white should cover most needs. The green I found was pretty washed out, didn’t really like it, but I’ll keep looking. Here are a few build photos, and more in my flickr SwitchMote set:

More people started asking when this will be available. I’m already producing custom versions of this and I’m trying to get as much testing done as I can. It is mains power stuff so I’m taking this seriously. This 3rd prototype of SwitchMote includes a varistor and trace fuses for added safety against transients and overloads. I need to develop the firmware stack for this and think of how I want SwitchMotes to interact with each other. The SwitchMotes will need to be wirelessly re-programmable when the need arises so users would not have to disconnect it from the wall when they want to update it. But I want SwitchMote to be pretty autonomous. I will install and try a few on my own, planning on replacing some 3 way switches and some outside lights I’d like to turn ON/OFF from the master bedroom. Fingers x-ed. But so far so good, all the buttons work, the LEDs glow nicely in the dark and are very visible even from a distance, and mechanically the unit is pretty much where I want it to be. This setup should fit easily in any standard switch box.

Will follow up with details on progress, stay tuned!

Wishing a very Happy Holidays Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014 to everyone reading this blog!

18 thoughts on “SwitchMote – one step closer to reality!

  1. Wow, those look great. I’m impressed by how many refinements you made from the last prototypes, and they looked pretty good. Good work!

  2. They look great, Felix! I can’t wait to get my hands on a few of those. Merry Christmas to you as well!

  3. Those look awesome. I’m really glad you went with the Decora style insert rather than a dedicated plate. This allows you to use a SwitchMote in a double or more gang box with another more traditional switch, or multiple SwitchMotes in one box.

    Put me on the ‘list’ of pre-orders.

  4. Just an idea, are there buttons that light-up when you press them? Either bicolor red/green or maybe even an RGB LED? I found this maybe: http://news.thomasnet.com/fullstory/LED-Illuminated-Pushbutton-Switch-offers-RGB-color-options-20008120

    Visual feedback that I can think of:
    * momentary red or green when you press the button to indicate the state of the light you are switch on or off.
    * visual feedback repeated on all the buttons that connect to the same light
    * constant colour when the light is on (e.g. is the basement light on or off?)
    * repeatedly pressing a button could light different lights and the button change colour to indicate which lights are on (red downstairs, orange upstairs, green basement then everything off)

    Keep at it mate, fantastic stuff!

    • Thanks!
      I think during the design of this product I have come across or planned for most of the things you mentioned. I could not find an bicolor or RGB pushbutton that is also low profile. The ones you mentioned are nice but they are very tall compared to the ones I use. Also a magnitude more expensive (http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en/switches/pushbutton-switches/1114209?k=LP6). I decided to go with the combination of plain pushbuttons and individual LEDs, which in the end can be any color as long as they are low power LEDs (I use 2mA leds to keep a low load on the small power supply).
      All the visual indication ideas you mentioned are on the table. The users will be able to basically do anything they want with the buttons and LEDs.

      • Hi Felix,

        I wasn’t thinking about cost, power consumption or mechanical constraints. Put all these together and I can see how you came-up with your design!

        Sparkfun have some buttons that may do the trick (at least for prototyping an interface) https://www.sparkfun.com/products/7836 but low power RGB LEDs seem to be very hard to come by. These? http://uk.mouser.com/new/lumex/lumexrgb0404/
        … quite expensive though.

        So until technology catches up, I’ll leave you to it 😉


        • John – I don’t think the RGB led would work, they say it’s 30/25/10 ma for R/G/B. The power supply is rated at 60mA continuous, so way out of spec for running even 2 LEDs at some combination color. But I’ve seen adafruit’s button pads similar to the one you linked, and thought about that. It would probably work, then a single RGB through hole led could be soldered, but it would require a custom type of silicone rubber button..the sparkfun version are too big to fit 3 unless they are cut out. I will keep looking in this direction, for now the proposed solution is cheap and works well. Thanks for all the suggestions!

  5. I’m glad you decided to keep going on this project. Very nice work. I’m especially excited to see how you’ve put together the supply. A small low power transformerless supply on it’s own has many possibilities.

  6. Very nice — I’ve actually been looking to do a similar thing in the master bedroom. Can’t wait to see the final product!

  7. Hello,
    Neat looking switches. Do the lights need to stay on? I rather have them off for in my bed room.
    Good day.

    • Everything is controlled by Moteino. I would release stock firmware which end users can then hack away at any way they want. So the answer is no, nothing needs to stay on or off, you can do whatever you want 😉

  8. Excellent job! I too am very excited about the release of these switches. Curious if this development work could be applied to individual wall outlets (that aren’t controlled by a switch.) Between these switches and outlet controls a person really could fully automate the home.. exciting stuff!

    • Thanks, yes you could control outlets, however you’d need a pretty hefty heatsink for the solid state relays to drive the 15A of outlets. The SSRs can only drive about 100W of load without heating up (still get warm at 100W). So really .. SwitchMote will only be intended to control lights, contrary to what I might have mentioned before that it could drive large loads. That’s still partially true, but you need the heatsink and that will increase the size dramatically (see DS for HSink details: http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/S202S02F/425-2403-5-ND/720463)

  9. This is a nice design. Unfortunately the European sockets are completely different, it couldn’t be used here. On another note: instead of the transformerless PSU you seem to use, I wonder if something like a Myrra 47k series would fit in your design? They seem to be very simple and small and just for the purpose.

    • I realize this … I’m not sure but I think every country might be using different outlets. If that’s the case that sucks for lack of standards in EU… but all hope is not lost. Only the shield part (with the buttons and LEDs) of the SwitchMote solution would have to change, everything else can stay the same. The Myrra 47k is HUGE compared to what I got, no worky. Believe me I searched for a long time before I arrived at what SwitchMote is.

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